Give the gift of holiday cheer

December 10, 2021

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The holidays are a time to spread happiness and goodwill to all. But for many of us, our focus lands solely on our friends and family.

To get to the heart of what this season is truly about, it's important to go beyond your inner circle. Consider changing it up this year by taking steps to deliver cheer to a neighbor, casual acquaintance—or even a stranger.

Here are 10 simple ways to do that—and experience the joy of giving.

  1. Adopt a family. Ask a church, other place of worship or a charity to match you with a family going through hard times. Donate toys and other gifts to those who might otherwise go without. Transform their season of need into a season of goodwill.
  2. Volunteer. Serve meals at a homeless shelter, volunteer at a nursing home, organize a trash day pickup—you can make a positive difference in your community. Check the COVID-19 precautions before you sign up. Many organizations are taking extra steps to help keep their volunteers safe by requiring masks, physical distancing and sanitizing equipment.
  3. Be the voice of joy. Go caroling in your neighborhood. Remember to follow social distancing guidelines.
  4. Surprise someone with an unexpected gift. Give baked goods or DIY presents to people who serve you or touch your life in some way. Maybe that's your mail carrier, your kids' teachers or a bus driver who ferries you safely to and from work every day.
  5. Spread praise. Compliment at least one person every day between now and the new year. Better yet, keep the compliments flowing in 2022.
  6. Write a heartfelt letter. Has someone made a positive difference in your life? Write a letter of gratitude expressing how that person affected you—and what it still means to you, even if years have passed. A holiday card is a good excuse to spark up the conversation again.
  7. Spread warmth. Buy a stranger a cup of morning coffee or bring hot chocolate to a crossing guard at your child's school.
  8. Be a good neighbor. Shovel an elderly neighbor's sidewalk or offer to take care of plants and pets if someone's away for the holidays.
  9. Share what you have. Donate clothes you rarely wear to a charity, leave a book that inspired you on a park bench or a bus seat (with a message for the next reader) or raid your pantry and share food with a soup kitchen.
  10. Listen. Give someone your undivided attention—turn off all your devices and focus exclusively on them.